Sunday 18 March 2018

Pure magic: Indulging debutante fantasies

Photography, Styling, Hair and Make-up by Laelia Milleri, fashion edited by Constance Harris

Feather dress, €895, Claire Garvey.
Feathers (worn in hair) and
earrings, both stylist’s own
Feather dress, €895, Claire Garvey. Feathers (worn in hair) and earrings, both stylist’s own
Julie wears: Silk and lace gown, €1,950; headpiece, €195, both Claire Garvey. Earrings, stylist's own
Hira wears: Leather peacock top, €495; peacock skirt, €995; skullcap, €189, all Claire Garvey
Tolu wears: Pearl corset, €995; pearl skirt, €1,050; headpiece, €189; pearl choker, €195, all Claire Garvey. Fan, stylist's own

Constance Harris

I see fashion photography as having two purposes -- service and magic. The service is that it shows us clothes, trends, the zeitgeist. The magic is that it inspires us to believe in something outside of our usual world: to dream, to aspire, to fall in love.

But magic is elusive and only a very special few possess it. I think you will agree that the collaboration on our pages today, between designer Claire Garvey and photographer Laelia Milleri, is pure magic.

You are seeing just eight shots from a project of more than 40 outfits, 40 extraordinary settings and character creations and 40 individual models, most of whom were fans of the girls' work and contacted them through Facebook.

As I viewed the shots, I found myself weaving stories around each of the individuals featured: queens, witches, elves, faeries, seductresses, elementals, ghosts, Wiccans, angels, tempests. It is truly an extraordinary project and achievement.

All credit, according to Claire, goes to Laelia. "I can't say enough good things about her," says Claire. "She is just the most extraordinary person. Everything you see in the photographs, apart from my dresses, is her. All her. She would come in and look at the dress I had just finished and come up with a character for it. She designed the make-up, the sets, everything. It has been an incredible experience." For Claire, whose imagination knows no limits, to say this of another is a true accolade.

"I don't think someone would come to me unless they were unusual," she continues. "There is something magical and true and original and different about the work. A sense that someone comes out of here with true self-belief and confidence in themselves and in what they are wearing."

For all her dreaminess and soft manner, Claire is a risk-taker. Ten years ago, she opened her shop in Cow's Lane in Temple Bar when everyone said she would fail. Today, she is thriving. "A few years ago, I got bored with fashion. It was a worrying time. So I took myself to a debs fair. I met loads of young people and that totally changed everything again."

Now Claire designs debs and 21st-birthday dresses for a generation of young women who have grown up reading JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer and Eoin Colfer, who think that they might never get married and want this to be their big moment.

Claire also designs bridal dresses and for mothers of the bride or groom, "who are usually creative, strong, individualistic women". This pretty much sums up the expression of femininity on our pages today.


Photography, styling, hair and make-up by

Laelia Milleri, see

Assisted by Adrian Bogonski,

Marta Anna Sikora and Marcin Oracki

Models: Julie Pydynowska, Tolu Omoyele,

Maru Romano, Katarzyna Starnawska,

Rumbie Netsiyanwa and Hira Shah

All clothes, headpieces and accessories by

Claire Garvey, available from the Claire Garvey

Shop, 6 Cow’s Lane, Temple Bar, D8,

open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5.30pm,

tel: (01) 671-7287

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